In This Episode
- Last night was the first of several public hearings by the January 6th House committee, with the purpose to get the insurrection and the bigger effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election back on people’s radars. Congressman and committee member Adam Schiff joined us before the hearing to explain what he hopes Americans will learn. And Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the “Will Be Wild” podcast, joined us afterwards to discuss her takeaways.
- And in headlines: the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into Louisiana’s State Police Department, 42 million people are on excessive heat watch ahead of an upcoming heatwave, and Britney Spears’ ex-husband interrupted her wedding.
- “Will Be Wild” from Pineapple Street Media and Wondery – https://apple.co/3HcFEO5
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Friday, June 10th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we hope Elon Musk understands why Trump should not be on Twitter now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, obviously tweeting is important and it’s our right as human beings, but when you do a coup, you lose that right.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yes. And Elon, if you agree with us, just don’t say anything.
Priyanka Aribindi: I haven’t heard anything yet. I think he agrees. On today’s show, a white Michigan police officer was charged for killing Black motorist Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop in April. Plus, a dangerous heat wave sweeps through America’s southwest this weekend.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, last night in primetime was the debut of public hearings by the January 6th House committee. Here’s committee chair Bennie Thompson, who kicked off the event with this:
[clip of Rep. Bennie Thompson] Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy, and ultimately Donald Trump, the President of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know what? I personally did not need a hearing to agree with that and see that as fact, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of things that I was surprised by. This was actually worth watching.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. Many more hearings are happening throughout the rest of June, but this first one was to get January 6th back on the radars of Americans, as well as the bigger effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Priyanka, do remember when that happened
Priyanka Aribindi: Sadly, I do.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Over 800 people have been charged in the riot with offenses ranging from low-level misdemeanors all the way up to felony seditious conspiracy. Another person was just arrested and charged yesterday actually, a republican candidate for Michigan’s governor race, Ryan Kelly. He faces four misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in prison.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I find this horrifying. I also like, I’m sure there are people who see that and are like, Great, love him, he’s our guy. Which is even more horrifying. Anyways, Josie, I got a chance to talk with House Committee Member and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff right before he went to be a part of yesterday’s hearing. He made time to be on WAD. It was very exciting. He explained that they plan to put all the pieces together in a complete story in this.
Adam Schiff: We hope that we can weave together different elements of the story that the public will be unfamiliar with. Putting all that in perspective, showing the public how there were multiple lines of effort to overturn the election that culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6th. It’s important that the public, I think, understand the full story, and that’s what we intend to tell. And we hope to do it in an engaging way that keeps the public attention and interest. And that’s the challenge before us.
Priyanka Aribindi: So conservative media, on the other hand, is painting these hearings as political theater. What do you have to say to something like that?
Adam Schiff: Well, you know, conservative media, I guess, and conservatives have also tried to claim January 6th was a normal tourist day, or a legitimate political discourse. And so, yes, they’re trying to revise history, but we want to set out the facts so they can learn how close we came to losing our democracy. And sadly, how we are not out of the woods, how the danger today is even greater than it was a year and a half ago. And ultimately, our committee intends to make recommendations about how to safeguard our democracy going forward.
Priyanka Aribindi: People only have so many hours in the day and, you know, there are a lot of things going on. What would you say to people who might not think that this is a priority for them to pay attention to? Why should they be watching this?
Adam Schiff: Because as we have seen in the last several years, our democracy is not immune from all of the forces that have brought down other democracies over time in other countries. And today, one of America’s great political parties is flirting with authoritarianism, which is dangerous. And people need to understand and see the danger so that we can protect this legacy that we inherited, for the next generation and the one after that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, thank you for that. Ultimately, after these hearings wrap up, what will your work be focused on? I know this has been a big part of what you’ve been doing for a long time.
Adam Schiff: You know, after these hearings in June, we have some remaining investigative work, some important work remaining. But also we want to turn to the task of recommendations. What do we need to do legislatively? How should we reform the Electoral Count Act for example? This very old law that determines after elections how that election gets certified by Congress. We want to make sure there’s no ambiguity such that if it was a close election in the future–and we were lucky in 2020, it really wasn’t close–but if it came down to a single state and it came down to an interpretation of this law, we could be in a real constitutional crisis. So we want to look at any laws that need reforming, how we can protect our democratic institutions better than we’ve done, restore a stronger foundation, and that will be an enduring priority throughout the rest of the year.
Priyanka Aribindi: And Josie, that is my quick chat with Congressman and Committee Member Adam Schiff right before the hearings started.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so there were many things that the committee did to accomplish what Schiff talked about there to recap the events of January 6th. One of those was this long montage that was almost like a play-by-play of the day’s events.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that was like a really striking part, I thought, that really brought you back into that moment watching everything that happened.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also, they had testimony from two people. One of them was Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer who was injured on January 6th. Take a listen:
[clip of Caroline Edwards] What I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. It was . . . carnage. It was chaos. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle.
Priyanka Aribindi: I will say watching that footage, like the way she speaks about it was kind of the way I was feeling. You’re like, This is crazy.
Josie Duffy Rice: Bizarre, totally.
Priyanka Aribindi: People are storming this building and you are like cringing and horrified and scared, and I’m sitting in my house watching this on TV. Like, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be watching this as a person who’s just showing up to do their job.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Now, to recap some of the other highlights and takeaways from this first hearing we’ve got with us, Andrea Bernstein. She’s the co-host of Will Be Wild, an eight-part podcast that dives deep into the people behind, and the people working against, the insurrection. Andrea, welcome to What a Day.
Andrea Bernstein: It’s great to be here.
Josie Duffy Rice: Adam Schiff told us that he hopes that the committee is able to weave together an engaging story about January 6th, and basically make a compelling case to the public about protecting future elections. So based on what you saw and heard. Do you feel like they’re on their way to doing that?
Andrea Bernstein: Yes, I really do think that last night’s hearing really did start us along that road. I don’t know that there were any evidentiary major surprises, but there were all sorts of very dramatic revelations. There were breadcrumb trails to follow. And there was a suggestion that if we tune in to future hearings, we will learn more. Just to give one example, there was reference made by Representative Liz Cheney about a meeting with Rudy Giuliani and Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell, who was at one point former President Trump’s attorney, where they met with him in the White House, and then a couple hours later is when President Trump issued the tweet about a protest on January 6th, “Be there. Will be wild”–which is, of course, the name of our podcast. There is a suggestion that there was a causality, that there was a relationship between that meeting and that tweet, and that there was some sense of intentionality, and that the idea was that this protest was part of what Representative Cheney referred to as a seven-part plan not to turn over the reins of power to Joe Biden. So we didn’t see the evidence. We didn’t see all of the things that the witnesses have to say, but there was a suggestion that these pieces will be woven together over the course of the next days and night of testimony.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So going into tonight, I watched January 6th on TV. I wasn’t quite sure what would be learned that was new, but I genuinely was surprised by a few things. It was quite striking to see that compilation of video, to hear some of those quotes said out loud. As someone who has dived deep into all things January 6th, though, did anything surprise you last night when you were watching this? Did you find out anything that you didn’t know before all this?
Andrea Bernstein: Yes. I mean, I think, you know, one suggestion was that the White House was getting a lot of reports that there would be violence prior to January 6th. And this is something that people said to me in the course of our reporting, Yes, we heard that if we were getting reports, for example–the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI or other law enforcement–certainly the White House was getting even more. But we didn’t know that. We didn’t have eyewitnesses who were in the room who said we were getting the reports. So there was a suggestion that we would get that. There was a suggestion that President Trump somehow approved of the people who had breached the Capitol saying they wanted to hang Mike Pence, that he not only did not want to pull them back, but he thought they were doing the right thing. So all of these things, I think, are things that we haven’t seen the evidence for, but if they deliver the goods, it will significantly enhance our understanding of what happened. In particularly to me, what is this missing piece? I mean, we know the president, you know, tried to get Mike Pence not to certify the election. We know that he tried to get the Justice Department to send letters to states like Georgia saying don’t send up your slate of electors to Washington. So we know he tried to block the transfer of power in that way. But what we don’t know and what I think these hearings may answer based on the testimony of the first night, is what did the President know about what this mob was going to do? And was that part of his plan to hang on to power–of his plan, Donald Trump’s plan–not just a thing that happened in Washington on January 6th?
Josie Duffy Rice: So the committee revealed evidence that really nails down, to your point, some of the questions that we had about what Trump and his inner circle said on and around January 6th. So here’s a clip of committee member Liz Cheney speaking during her opening remarks, as well as video of former Attorney General Bill Barr’s deposition.
[clip of Rep. Liz Cheney] And, aware of the rioters chant to hang Mike Pence, the President responded with this sentiment. Quote, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Mike Pence, quote, “deserves it.”
[clip of Bill Barr] I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.
Josie Duffy Rice: Do you think that actually like, hearing and seeing these things is going to shift people’s opinions that they already have about this day? It feels like so much of people’s perspective is kind of already entrenched.
Andrea Bernstein: So it’s really, really hard to know, but it is pretty shocking that the President seems to be condoning literal death threats against his own vice president in real time. It’s maybe a little less shocking to hear Bill Barr say that he said the election was bullshit because we knew at the time–he didn’t say bullshit at the time–but he did say publicly that he didn’t see any evidence of fraud. That, however, the fact that he says I addressed this with the President on several occasions is evidence that the President was very intentional and that he knew that he was trying to overthrow an election, versus that he was somehow, you know, at the time trying to reckon with the trauma of losing, which was sort of the spin in real time. So yeah, I think that both of those are kind of pretty big revelations. But, you know, one thing that’s so interesting is, you know, the tape that we saw at the first night’s testimony, you know, this is tape that most people haven’t seen since they saw it on social media on January 6th or on TV, or maybe they watched the impeachment trial, maybe, but people haven’t seen this tape in a long time. When we put together our podcast, we were so immersed in it, so maybe it didn’t have the shock value for me, but one of the things that people keep saying to us is, I had no idea there was so much to learn about January 6th. And I do think that one of the effects of showing this video and having this testimony is to bring people back to that moment of shock. There was a moment of shock around January 6th where people were like, What is going on? That seems to be the place that the committee is trying to bring people to. Well they? Unknowable. But they did lay out a case for doing that in the testimony on the first night.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. Were there any other big takeaways that you had from, you know, everything that we saw yesterday?
Andrea Bernstein: Well, you know, when we started reporting on this, so, you know, about somewhat over a year ago, a little over a year ago, we said, what was that? Was that an attempted coup? And, you know, there was a legitimate counter-narrative like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, that was just, you know, chaos, just President Trump. And straight out, the Chairman of the Committee said, Yeah, they tried to have a coup, they tried to overturn the government. And that is a pretty bold conclusion, and it does show you in some ways how effective this committee has been in surfacing evidence that that’s what the White House was trying to do. They were trying to not turn over power to Joe Biden. That is pretty shocking in a democracy.
Josie Duffy Rice: So how do you think that last night sets the stage for the rest of the hearings that are scheduled for the next few months?
Andrea Bernstein: I think they did a pretty good job of suggesting they would reveal things, but not actually revealing them, so you kind of want to tune in to the subsequent hearings to find out.
Priyanka Aribindi: Little teasers.
Andrea Bernstein: I mean, I think that they sort of you know, they, you know, having just done this, they really constructed last night’s testimony like a season opener. Okay, like, here’s the characters that we’re going to be introducing and here is a suggestions of the narrative, but we’re not actually going to tell you that, that’s coming later. So I think that, I mean, I am ready to tune into the next one. Now, I realize I’m not typical, but I bet you I’m not the only one. This Committee was constituted because the Republicans refused to have an actual nonpartisan commission without even elected officials running the investigation. As a result, we have this Committee with seven Democrats because the Republicans would not put any sort of serious-minded people who want to get to the truth on the Committee. So we have seven Democrats, we have two renegade Republicans, and it’s like nothing we’ve seen in Washington. They actually want to tell a coherent story. So that is very different from the past and I think it may yield some interesting results.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.
Josie Duffy Rice: Andrea Bernstein s the co-host of “Will Be Wild,” an eight-part podcast that dives deep into the people that played a role in the insurrection. It’s an amazing series that you should definitely check out. It’s available wherever you get your podcasts and we’ll put a link to it in our show notes. Thank you so much for joining us.
Andrea Bernstein: Thank you. You too. Great talking to you.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also be sure to check out bonus episodes the series is putting out this month, covering the hearings as well.
Priyanka Aribindi: And the next January 6th hearing is this coming Monday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern. You can join Crooked for a live group thread featuring real-time commentary from your favorite Crooked hosts. Don’t miss out on our live reactions. Head to YouTube.com/Crookedmedia and hit subscribe so you can be notified when everything is starting. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: A white Michigan police officer was charged with second degree murder yesterday for fatally shooting Patrick Lee Lyoya, a Black man, during a traffic stop earlier this year. Lyoya’s death sparked outrage throughout the Black community in Grand Rapids, the majority-white city where he was killed. And Thursday’s indictment is significant because of how rare it is for police officers to get charged, much less convicted for on-duty killings. Ben Crump, the attorney representing the Lyoya family, said on Thursday, quote, “While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction.” In other police accountability news, the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into Louisiana’s State Police Department amid several recent incidents of its officers targeting Black men. One of the most prominent cases leading up to this moment was the deadly arrest of Ronald Green in 2019 after a high-speed chase. And dozens of cases like Green’s from the past decade have prompted widespread calls for accountability, particularly when it comes to police using excessive force. Alanna Odoms, head of Louisiana’s ACLU, said on Thursday that the DOJ’s investigation is, quote, “a huge leap in furtherance of justice for Louisianans whose rights have been violated by this cruel and corrupt agency.”
Josie Duffy Rice: If you live in the Southwest and have full access, now is your opportunity to be popular. Because according to the National Weather Service, 42 million people in the area are on an excessive heat watch ahead of an expected triple-digit heat wave this weekend–triple digits, unbelievable. In California, temperatures could climb as high as 120 degrees in some areas. And in states like Arizona, similar temperatures could increase the risk of wildfires and droughts–shout out to the friend we deeply regret inviting to the party: climate change. Dangerously hot temperatures also pose a huge threat to unhoused folks across the country who are much more susceptible to thirst, heatstroke, and exhaustion amid high temperatures. If you want to help your unhoused neighbors survive the heat, activists recommend handing out cold or frozen bottles of water, cooling towels, hats, umbrellas, or even ice packs, to folks in your community. And while you’re at it, you can also get them some nutritious nonperishable foods and direct them to shadier public areas where they can take shelter.
Priyanka Aribindi: I can’t even fathom what a temperature like this would feel like, nor do I ever want to know. I hope everyone is staying as safe and cool as possible.
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, surprise, you’re going to know one day. That’s the path we’re on.
Priyanka Aribindi: We all will.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re all going to know. Cool times.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m burying myself in the ground. I’ll never know. What A Day is at its heart a show about golf news, so we wanted to update you on what’s happening in the sport we like to call “slow hockey.” A new tour called the LIV Golf Invitational series kicked off yesterday in London, leading the most well-established circuit in golf, the PGA Tour, to announce that it was suspending any player who participated–drama happening, in golf, that’s all I can tell you. There’s more backstory here. LIV is funded by the Saudi Arabia Wealth Fund, and not only does it represent a threat to the PGA’s dominance, but it also fits with the strategy that the kingdom has begun to use frequently, where they invest heavily in culture to distract from the records of human rights violations. This process is expensive. In the case of LIV, the kingdom has reportedly spent $2 billion, and the players participating have been able to charge a high Saudi reputation laundering fee. Multiple golfers will reportedly collect nine-figure sums just for showing up to this tour, while the person who places dead last will get a $120,000 participation trophy–which, I’m now taking up golf, I guess. Not everyone involved in LIV Golf has risen to the occasion in their new roles as Saudi PR reps. In a rocky press briefing, retired golfer and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said of the Saudi killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, quote, “Look, we’ve all made mistakes.” And of the country’s dismal treatment of the LGBTQ community, quote, “I’m not sure whether I even have any gay friends, to be honest.” You aren’t hearing anything from Josie because she is cringing and hiding her face in her hands as we all should be.
Josie Duffy Rice: I can not. I’m like, Did you mean to sabotage this? Was not the point?
Priyanka Aribindi: No. I mean, clearly he does not like his job.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’ll keep following Live and the insane moments like this that it produces in our role as golf journalists.
Josie Duffy Rice: I always wanted to be a golf journalist and I appreciate the opportunity
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, I had a great time at Topgolf this spring and this kicked off a new career path for me.
Josie Duffy Rice: Priyanka and I have both played Topgolf once, and that is the extent of our golf.
Priyanka Aribindi: And now we’re experts.
Josie Duffy Rice: We know everything there is to know about golf. Britney Spears’ ex-husband used the day of her wedding to show us all who’s really toxic. He broke on to the singer’s property in Thousand Oaks, California yesterday, caused a scene, and then was arrested by the police. The ex-husband in question is Jason Alexander–not the one from Seinfeld–and if you don’t remember, he became Mr. Britney Spears for a whirlwind 55 hours in 2004 before their marriage was annulled. I was remember.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a time.
Josie Duffy Rice: What a time.
Priyanka Aribindi: I was like ten years old and I still remember.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh yeah, it was big. Here’s some footage he livestreamed yesterday on Instagram while talking to security at the Spears compound:
[clip of Jason Alexander] Who are you?
[Jason Alexander] Michael, that’s Michael guys. This is Jason. First husband, here to crash it. Naw, my name’s Jason Alexander. Britney invited me here. Britney Spears invited me here. She’s my first wife, my only wife. I’m her first husband. I’m here to crash the wedding, cause nobody’s here but Sam. So where the fuck’s the family and where’s the–there’s Kate, right there.
Josie Duffy Rice: No. No.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God.
Josie Duffy Rice: If that sounded like the January 6th footage a little bit, do I have a surprise for you? This is not the first time Alexander has tried to interrupt a history-making event, he may have also crashed a very significant joint session of Congress in the winter of 2021, on January 6th. He posted a selfie in a Trump hat with other MAGA folks on the streets of D.C. After Alexander’s break-in yesterday, Spears’s lawyer called for him to be quote, “prosecuted to be fullest extent of the law.” Hours later, Spears married her longtime boyfriend and former dancer Sam Asghari, which is something that would not have been possible if she were still in her conservatorship. Once 55 hours have passed, we can officially start celebrating. I got to say, Priyanka, as we know, do not like when we say people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, not fans on that.
Josie Duffy Rice: Not fans on that. However, I do have to say if your ex-husband crashes your wedding–
Priyanka Aribindi: And livestreams it on Instagram.
Josie Duffy Rice: –and livestreams it on Instagram, there should be some sort of like vigilante justice you just get to do. Like Britney Spears should just get to. I don’t know why, but like that’s enough.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hello! Was that not secure? Britney! You’re a huge celebrity.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right? Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: You can’t be getting married without security! What in the world?
Josie Duffy Rice: No, no, no, no.
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re at least has to be a door guy, with a list!?
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Yeah. Well, it’s okay. Britney invited him, so it’s all good.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: on this week’s Hysteria, Erin and Alissa talked to New York mag writer-at-large Rebecca Traister, about her newest piece on Dianne Feinstein. Plus, they reflect on the Uvalde victims’ stories and Matthew McConaughey’s surprising engagement in the gun conversation–oh, boy. You can listen to new episodes of Hysteria every Thursday wherever you get your podcasts.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, stay up to date on golf news, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading, and not just the bios of both Jason Alexander’s like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[together] And somebody hug Mike Pence!
Priyanka Aribindi: Not me.
Josie Duffy Rice: Won’t be me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly not me.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’ll have to be mother. It’ll have to be mother.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, mother is probably the only person who’s allowed to touch him. But yeah, it was, I did, I did feel like a little, a little bad for him in that moment.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.